John Lewis Paton Distinguished Professor
University Research Professor (F.R.S.C.)
Violin and Viola
B.Mus. (New England)
Violinist Nancy Dahn enjoys an international career as half of the acclaimed Duo Concertante with her husband, pianist Timothy Steeves. She has appeared in over 700 recitals in Canada, the United States and abroad at such venues as Wigmore Hall (London), Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall (New York), Roy Thomson Hall (Toronto), the National Arts Centre (Ottawa), Dame Myra Hess series (Chicago), Forbidden City Concert Hall (Beijing), and the LACMA (Los Angeles). She regularly performs and teaches at summer festivals such as the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, Indian River Festival, Domaine Forget, Cactus Pear Music Festival, Music Niagara, Colours of Music Festival, Festival of the Sound, and the Tuckamore Festival, where she serves as co-artistic director.
Among her 13 acclaimed Duo Concertante recordings are their 3-CD set Beethoven: Complete Sonatas for Violin and Piano (Marquis) considered “beautiful…a reference in…contemporary performance” (Musical Toronto) and a “miracle of… knowledge and poetry” (Gramophone), which is broadcast regularly on CBC Radio 2. Duo Concertante have twelve other acclaimed recordings on the ATMA, Centrediscs, and Marquis labels, including their two-disc set of J.S. Bach’s Sonatas for Violin and Keyboard, which received the first of three consecutive ECMAs for Classical Recording of the Year, followed by Incarnation in 2018 and Perfect Light in 2019. Their Franz Schubert: Music for Violin and Piano was selected by CBC Music as one of “Canada’s Top 20 Classical Albums of 2020.”
Nancy’s 2022 album, Ecology of Being features music inspired by the climate emergency written especially for Duo Concertante. Praised as “a powerful and deeply moving album performed with world-class expressiveness and musicality “(WholeNote), the music of Ecology of Being also spurred a new interest in combining music and film. Melissa Hui’s “Ecology of Being”, for example, became a 21-minute film directed by Nicola Hawkins, and won Best Experimental Film and Best Original Score at the 2020 IndieX Filmfest (Los Angeles). Their 2022 film “End of the Line” (with music by Jessie Montgomery and part of a larger film project called SOLACE) was an award winner at the Los Angeles Women’s Independent Film Festival.
Critics have described Duo Concertante’s playing as "grace and fire… fury and repose… a triumphant mass of non-stop energy" (WholeNote), "Splendid… a miracle of knowledge and poetry" (Gramophone),"spectacular" (American Record Guide) and have praised their "artistry, poetry, and impeccable technique" (La Scena Musicale). Of their recent Germany tour the Rheinische Post wrote: "Duo Concertante impresses with their technical brilliance, but their musicality is even more special."
Nancy and Tim’s passion and commitment to contemporary music has acted as the catalyst for many new Canadian works. With the Duo, she has commissioned a total of sixty-nine new works and original arrangements for violin and piano from many of Canada’s leading composers, such as Murray Schafer, Vincent Ho, Kati Agócs, Clifford Crawley, Kelly-Marie Murphy, Omar Daniel, Andrew MacDonald, Brian Current, Linda Bouchard, and Jean Lesage. Their CDs Wild Honey and Wild Bird consist entirely of commissioned Canadian works and their recent album Incarnation, with works by Chan Ka Nin, Denis Gougeon, Alice Ho, Jocelyn Morlock and Andrew Staniland, was picked by CBC as one of the top ten classical recordings of 2017.
As a soloist, Nancy Dahn has performed concertos by Beethoven, Bruch, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bach, Mozart, Saint-Saens, Vivaldi, Piazzolla, Part, Lou Harrison, and Andrew MacDonald with orchestras in Canada and the United States. The Halifax Chronicle Herald praised her "powerful musical instincts and flawless technique" in her performance of the Bruch Concerto. She has also enjoys collaborating in chamber music with artists such as James Campbell, Evelyn Hart, Suzie LeBlanc, Atar Arad, and the Shanghai, Afiara and Cecelia String Quartets.
An inspiring and dedicated teacher, Nancy has given hundreds of workshops and master classes across Canada and in the U.S., Germany, and China including at the Glenn Gould Professional School, University of Toronto, Western University, Wilfred Laurier University, University of Victoria, Ithaca College, Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, UBC, University of Victoria, and Mount Royal College. Her students have been accepted for graduate studies at schools such as the Juilliard School, Rice University, the New England Conservatory, the Royal Academy of Music, McGill University, the Guildhall School, McGill University, the Peabody Conservatory, and the Glenn Gould Professional School. Many hold positions in orchestras across Canada including the Vancouver Symphony, the Canadian Opera Company, and the Winnipeg Symphony.
Nancy received her training at the New England Conservatory of Music with Masuko Ushioda, the Juilliard School with Glenn Dicterow, and the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received a doctorate in violin performance with Donald Weilerstein. She is also deeply indebted to her many inspirational chamber music mentors including Louis Krasner, Eugene Lehner, Joel Krosnick, Leon Fleisher, Bob McDonald, Felix Galimir, Leonard Shure, Laurence Lesser, Patricia Zander, and David Breitman.
In 2016 Nancy was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and awarded a University Research Professorship by Memorial University. In 2021, she was recognized for “demonstrating exceptional teaching, undertaking world-class research and sharing their knowledge and expertise widely” with the designation of John Lewis Paton Distinguished Professorship.
Duo Concertante perform César Franck's Sonata for Violin and Piano.